Employers’ Obligations and Brexit – FAQs
Do you know what employers’ obligations are in respect of Brexit? It has been nearly a year since the UK officially left the EU and the transition period is due to end on the 31st December 2020. Below we have outlined the key questions our clients are asking our employment team regarding employers’ obligations to help them prepare.
What is changing in employment law?
For now, there will be no substantial changes to UK employment law, nor to employees’ employment rights. This is because the majority of employment law derives from existing EU-based employment legislation and this will continue to apply in domestic law after the transition period.
Any existing company policies, for example on data protection, can therefore remain unchanged for the time being. That being said, if you transfer personal data outside of the UK, you may need to put additional protections in place after 1st January 2021. Please contact us if this is likely to affect your business.
We will continue to keep you updated should there be any amendments to employment legislation in the future.
What is the main concern for employers in light of Brexit?
The biggest implication for employers is that as of 1st January 2021, freedom of movement will end between the UK and the EU. Instead, a new points-based immigration system will take effect, which will change the way that you employ EU citizens.
What if we already employ EU citizens?
An advisable first step would be to put together a list of the EU citizens you employ, as they may need additional guidance, support and reassurance. Speak to those employees, and ask if they have applied for the EU Settlement Scheme. If they haven’t, you can suggest that they do so and support them in the process if they need it.
What is the EU Settlement Scheme?
The EU Settlement Scheme (“the Scheme”) is designed to give individuals and any eligible family members’ residence in the UK on either a ‘settled’ or ‘pre-settled’ status after the transition period has ended, depending on their length of continuous residence at the time they apply.
The deadline for applying under the Scheme is 30th June 2021, and it’s important that employees have applied if they intend to remain in the UK after this date. The application is free to make, but employees will only be eligible if they were living in the UK by 31st December 2020.
Some employees may not need to apply, for example if they are an Irish citizen or already have indefinite leave to remain.
Do we need to make an employee apply under the Scheme?
It’s the employee’s individual responsibility to apply under the Scheme and there is no obligation for them to tell you if they have. Equally, there is no legal obligation upon you as an employer to ensure that they have applied and you can’t require them to show you their status under the Scheme until after 30 June 2021.
Will we need to request up to date right to work checks?
You won’t need to carry out additional checks for now, but make sure you continue to check an individual’s right to work as normal, as this is a legal requirement. There won’t be any changes to right to work checks until after 30 June 2021.
What about hiring people from the EU who weren’t living in the UK before 31st December 2020?
The UK is introducing a new points-based immigration system which will be effective from 1st January 2021. If you want to hire from outside the UK (excluding Irish citizens) after 1st January 2021, you will need to be a licensed sponsor and apply for permission in advance. The government have encouraged employers who don’t have a sponsor licence to make an early application, to avoid any disruption to the workforce. Please contact us if you need help with making the application.
This is an ever changing area and the position may change. The position is stated as at 17th December 2020.
If you have any further questions regarding Employers obligations and Brexit…Talk to Tollers on 01604 258558, your dedicated Tollers HR team are here to guide you through.